The success of a new funding model for the African Union (AU) based on collecting taxes on imports and transferring the money to the body’s coffers will depend on whether the organisation will be reformed to bring about its ability to implement the decision, a prominent analyst on the AU affairs has said.
In an exclusive interview with The New Times in Kigali last week, Dr Mehari Taddele Maru, assistant professor of Law and Governance at Addis Ababa University and member of the AU High Level Advisory Group, said reforms at the 50-year-old institution are closely tied to its success in collecting contributions from member states under the new funding model.
He says that the reforms have to be focused on implementation capability because that is the main problem for most of the organisation’s decisions on self-financing.
“AU has to have the capability to follow up with the member states to see whether they are respecting the decision and member states have to go beyond the capability to implement or collect the levies but also have the willingness and determination to pass on what they collect to the AU Commission,” he said.
The 27th African Union Summit, took place in Kigali in July, ended with a commitment to fast track initiatives designed to make the African Union Commission (AUC) financially independent.
That independence, leaders said, is key to making the body more efficient and would spur the continent’s ambition to become a truly peaceful, independent and prosperous bloc.
That’s why African heads of state and government at the summit decided to start a new funding model for the AUC, which would see all the 54 member countries contribute some $1.2 billion to the Union’s coffers every year through levying 0.2 per cent tax on eligible imports.
The funds will be directly sent to the AU secretariat, which would use it in financing operational costs as well as development programmes and peace support operations.
Not easy to implement
But Dr Mehari said that is a big assumption, and its implementation may prove challenging given the AUC’s inability to supervise member states and the likely lack of determination and capability among the latter to follow through with the collection of the money and hand it over to the AU.
“That member states will effectively collect the money; that they have the capability to collect, the willingness to collect, and the determination to transfer the money that they collect from importers to the AU is an assumption. This is the biggest assumption that this formula has,” he said.
The new funding model was introduced as a solution to the AU’s overreliance on foreign aid, which meant that the continent often intervened too late in conflict-torn regions while it also had little influence on the nature and extent of intervention.
Implementation of the new financing model is slated to start next year according to resolutions from the 27th African Union Summit.
For the plan to succeed, Dr Mehari said that reforms within the organisation, whose supervision was assigned to President Paul Kagame, have to be fast-tracked because they are closely tied to the success of collecting and properly using the money that will be obtained.
“President Kagame has been burdened with the highest possible responsibility that any head of state could have and that is reforming a 50-year old institution,” Mehari said.
At the Kigali summit, African Heads of State and Government tasked President Kagame to lead a new effort to reform the AU Commission and the Union to make them more efficient.
Addressing a post-Summit news conference, the President welcomed the task, saying that he will consult with his colleagues throughout the restructuring process.